The month of October brings about some of the Fall seasons best comforts, as the leaves turn and the temperature drops. This can mean more pumpkin spice latte’s, or s’mores nights, social gatherings over delicious home cooked meals, and maybe throwing a few logs on the fire place. With the increase in heating and cooking during this time of the year there also comes the increased risk of fire. Because of this, October is known as Fire Safety Month. Whether you are a service provider, CEO, or on-site team member, as multi-family professionals, we all play a critical role in the area of fire prevention, precaution, and safety. So, what are some of the industry’s best practices in terms of fire safety?
Causes of Fire in Multi-family
Residential fires made up 29.1% of total fires by property type in some of the most recent data available, making it the second most common fire type behind outdoor fires. Closer living quarters and adjoining walls in multi-family structures increase the risk of fire. Fire in these structures can also impact more people and cause damage on a larger scale at a more rapid pace due to the co-existence of many in a single building.
Cooking fires made up 51.6% as the leading cause of all residential fires, with heating being the second most prevalent. The kitchen and bedrooms are also statistically the most common places for fires to start in residential homes. Residential buildings that include baseboard heaters, space heaters, electric stoves, and fireplaces heighten the risk of both instances occurring. For all these reasons and many more, ongoing fire safety and preparedness is extremely important for multi-family sites during October, the colder months, and throughout the year.
Provide Information in Advance
What things can we do as multi-family professionals to decrease fire risk? One of the most important things we can do is provide residents and teams detailed and easily understood fire information for education, training, preparedness and prevention. Furthermore, property management teams should have detailed working knowledge and training on how to respond to these emergency situations. Partnering with local fire departments, or Buyers Access vendors such as Cintas, is a great source to conduct fire safety training sessions with employees and residents at community gatherings. Get everyone as knowledgeable and prepared as possible, and be proactive!
Drafting a Property Specific Fire Safety Guide
When developing a fire safety guide to provide residents and team members, include a building diagram that marks the location of fire extinguishers, evacuation routes, stairwells, and fire pulls. The diagram should also identify designated exterior meeting areas for residents, vendors, and staff when evacuating the building. Other things to include are alternate routes for evacuation, additional stair access, tips for handling various emergency conditions such as smoke, being trapped, pets, and any other property specific information that may be helpful.
Time is everything when it comes to fire. Every 30 seconds a flame can double, filling up a room in a matter of minutes and making each second crucial. Organization and confidence should be a priority when training staff members on fire protocol. There is no guarantee that the community manager or service manager will be available to guide other employees during a fire, so it’s also important to plan and train accordingly. Team members gain confidence through education, and communication, role playing, and fire drills. Working with Buyers Access account managers and vendors can assist in this training process.
Types of Fire Safety Inspections
Multifamily communities have a critical responsibility to ensure certain fire and life safety requirements are always being met. Because of this, annual inspections are often required by local officials to ensure that code requirements are being met. Inspections on building fire alarm panels, pull station operation, fire extinguisher expiration dates, fire sprinklers, and visual requirements such as clear pathways are some of the more important fire related inspection items. If a property is in violation of any of these areas, authorities can issue an “order to comply” and issue fines until repairs have been completed.
Fire Safety Every Day
There are many other things to consider when protecting a community from fire hazards, which should be considered daily. Any time any fire safety device is malfunctioning it should be addressed and remediated immediately. Preventative maintenance inspections can serve as a great time to inspect interior and exterior fire safety devices. Encouraging residents to notify management of any safety risks is also helpful in case it is overlooked or not caught immediately by property staff.
A very common fire safety issue is burnt out “Emergency Exit” signs in hallways. Changing these bulbs promptly or utilizing LED bulbs in Exit signs, can minimize this risk. Fire doors should be automatically self-closing when the alarm sounds. Paying close attention to anything blocking these doors or preventing them from self-closing should be a priority, along with ensuring ease of ingress and egress in common areas at all times. If the fire doors are always closed, make sure self-closing and latching hardware are operating correctly so they consistently close immediately behind users.
Fire safety awareness is crucial no matter what time of year, and the above recommendations are a good start to protecting your property from associated risks. We hope you will apply some of the aforementioned best-practices into your fire safety routine. Buyers Access supplier partners such as Cintas and SmartBurner, can offer members quality solutions and services associated with fire safety. If you are in need of additional support or are curious on the savings you can realize by gaining access to the Buyers Access program, contact us at 1-800-445-9169 or by email Basales@buyersaccess.com. If your already a valued customer and are in need of assistance, reach out to member services by emailing email@example.com or contact your account manager.